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%% Amiga Talk                                            by Ivo Kroone %%
%%                                           ab2693@triton.heao.hsa.nl %%
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AMIGA TALK - A low cost Amiga network
  
-Back in 1989 a small German company showed a networking system for the
Amiga on the "Amiga Messe" in Frankfurt. The beauty of the network was 
the fact that it works via the diskdrive port. No loss of essential ports
(like PARnet and SERnet) and no need for expensive cards. The Amiga Talk 
network created a device being the harddisk of another machine. Now that 
there's finally a little network support for the Amiga (NetWork 
FilingSystem and Superbase LAN) the time was right to buy Amiga Talk.
  
Although it is pretty cheap (Hfl 450,- (about $ 200)) the package surely
lacks some essential things. The worst is the fact that everything is in
German. The Dutch dealer included a translated manual, but still are
technical details (needed to make applications that make full use of the
net) are in German. All software is in German as well. So when the network
crashed or reported some error I had no idea whatsoever what was wrong.
  
INSTALLING
  
Installing the hardware is as easy as could get. Plug the network adapters
in the last disk drive in the chain; that's it. Plug a terminator on the
first and last machine in the network and the hardware is ready to go.
  
Installing the software isn't that easy. Manufacturer Adonis doesn't use
the standard Commodore installer. Instead they have their own system,
regrettably in German. So there's nothing else to do but follow the
instructions from the translated manual blindly.
  
First one has to name the server. I named my server "office". One has to
specify which devices can be accessed by the clients. For some reason RAM:
and DF0: aren't recommended but the manual nor the software explains why.
Next the names for all clients have to be entered. Now all clients need to
be installed. The installer sees which clients can be appointed and with a
simple click of the mouse a client name can be selected for the current
machine.
  
To use the network the server has to run "StartServer" before the other
machines have access. The "StartServer" command does not display a window
or anything annoying. Without any clients "StartServer" doesn't complain
either so it doesn't harm to put it in the S:Startup-Sequence. For a 
client to access the network the command "NetMount" has to be run. If a 
client has a similar device to the server (e.g. DH0:) one can "mount as".
For example "NetMount Office/DH0: as SH0:", now the harddisk of the server
will be known as SH0: on the client.
  
USING THE NETWORK
 
It's slow. It is very slow. It's just a little faster than the diskdrive.
Of course the harddisks on the network don't have slow heads to move but
seek time and transferring rate are very disappointing. This is surely 
not a network for heavy file transferring. However to transfer single 
records for a distributed database system it will perfectly do.
  
Here are the figures:
  
DiskSpeed 3.1 - Copyright (c) 1989,90 by MKSoft Development
  
Device:       DH0: local drive on unaccelerated server
  
Test Intensity: Med   Performance Stress: None
  
        10 Files/s Create
        17 Files/s Open/Close
        88 Files/s Scan
        46 Files/s Delete
  
       134 Seek/Read
  
 Buffer Size     512            4096            32768           262144
 ---------       ---------      ---------       ---------       ---------
 Bytes/s Create  27377          156157          292095          393024
 Bytes/s Write   28470          169306          347714          486737
 Bytes/s Read    54723          243368          405287          478779
  
  
  
 DiskSpeed 3.1 - Copyright (c) 1989,90 by MKSoft Development
  
 Device:       SH0: remote drive on unaccelerated server
  
 Test Intensity: Med   Performance Stress: None
  
         5 Files/s Create
         5 Files/s Open/Close
        10 Files/s Scan
        11 Files/s Delete
  
         5 Seek/Read
  
 Buffer Size     512             4096            32768           262144
 ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
 Bytes/s Create  6537            19950           23984           22406
 Bytes/s Write   6857            21030           24443           23918
 Bytes/s Read    4538            21002           27522           28844
  
If the server has a ".backdrop" file in the root, it will be copied to all
clients. With my server having "PageStream", "DirectoryOpus", "Term", 
"Ami-Back" and a Shell as outplaced icons, they all appear on the clients
as well. Running them from a client works as well. Keep in mind that calls
to logical drives like L:, Libs: or Devs: are still aimed at the client 
itself. So in order to run the programs the necessary files have to be on
each client or the paths have to be assigned to the server as well.
  
PRINTER SPOOLER
  
The Adonis software also offers a way of printer spooling. All output to
the standard printer device (PRT:) should be re-routed to a file using the
standard CMD-command. A printer-spooling program then sends all printer
files to a special directory on the server. The server checks for new 
files in this directory and prints them.
  
This all works all right. However if one has a printer on the client (for
example a matrix printer) and the server has a laserprinter, one chooses
once in a while. A draft copy can be printed locally, the final result
should be printed on the laserjet. Creating two printer devices isn't 
easy. The "CMD.info" can only contain "DEVICE=parallel" or 
"DEVICE=serial". So, by appointing the server-printer to be "serial" by 
the client it can be done. Creating a special printer device (SPT:?) would
have been a better solution from Adonis.
  
The printer spooler on the server opens a window which cannot be closed.
The person working on the server always has one extra window in the
WorkBench.
  
DETAILS
  
To maintain the network some extra utilities have been supplied. Again 
most of their output is in German so they ain't that useful after all. The
programs allow to check the network and reinstall (new server, new 
devices, other machine names).
  
As the network hardware plugs into the diskdrive ports using drive patches
like CrossDOS could cause trouble. Intense activity on the network slows
the speed of the diskdrives on the current Amigas down.
  
AmigaTalk v1.1d has been tested using 3 Amigas. All running KickStart 2.0,
all having a personal printer and a network printer. Two machines have a
modem, one internal and one external.
  
 server:
  Amiga 500
   Supra ByteSync 105M harddisk
  
 clients:
  Amiga 2000
   GVP 40M harddisk
  Amiga 2500
   Supra WordSync 52M harddisk
  
CONCLUSION
  
I'd recommend AmigaTalk for those who transfer small files. Companies who
make magazines can send texts and pictures to the server. Companies can
send records for a database to the server or lookup something. Using Amiga-
Talk in a file-server situation, where all users run software from a
central machine wouldn't be a good idea.
  
The network never crippled a file and never crashed. If the server crashes
for some reason all clients will go along. For some reason I hardly ever
have GURUs or software failures and therefore I only know this from the
manual.
  
Nice try. If Adonis translates the German texts to English and polishes 
the software here and there it could be a very interesting product. Even 
after all these years between introduction and buying it the software 
seems out dated. Some work still needs to be done.
  
 negative:
 o client-server system
   Not a peer-to-peer network. So the clients can access the harddisks of
   the server. The server cannot access the client harddisks.
 o slow
   Not a good idea for running programs over the network. Perfectly 
   suitable for small files like database records, messages, mail or 
   pictures.
 o all in German
   Isn't English the standard computer language?
  
 positive:
 o affordable
   Compared to prices in other countries $ 230 (USD) might be a lot for a
   network but compared to prices here in Holland it is very cheap.
 o transperant
   The network acts as a device. Easy to use easy to install other packages
   to work with the system
 o printer spooler
   
Not perfect, but it's there and it works.
  
 -Ivo Kroone (ab2693@triton.heao.hsa.nl)
  
  
 Dutch distributer:                            Manufacturer:
  
 1001 Software Development                     Adonis
 Nieuwendam 10                                 Industriestr. 36 
 1621 AP  Hoorn                                D-6470  Budingen
 The Netherlands                               Germany
 (Europe)                                      (Europe)